‘Fight club’ is a hot school board is­sue

Par­ent claims of­fi­cials have known about it for two years but lit­tle has been done

The Peterborough Examiner - - LOCAL - SARAH SOBANSKI AND CATHER­INE WHITNALL KAWARTHA LAKES THIS WEEK

LIND­SAY — A re­cently-posted video of stu­dents en­gaged in an al­leged “fight club” has sparked a fo­cus on stu­dent con­duct and bul­ly­ing.

The mat­ter was brought for­ward dur­ing Tues­day night's (Oct. 22) Tril­lium Lake­lands Dis­trict School Board reg­u­lar meet­ing by trustee John Byrne.

Su­per­in­ten­dent of learn­ing Kather­ine MacIver said the board is work­ing closely with prin­ci­pals — who are work­ing closely with the po­lice — af­ter a video show­ing two stu­dents fight­ing went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia.

The post­ing was meant to draw at­ten­tion to an al­leged “fight club” in­volv­ing Cen­tral Se­nior Pub­lic School stu­dents.

Al­though in­ci­dents have oc­curred off school prop­erty and/or out­side school hours, MacIver said the board is ob­li­gated to ad­dress the mat­ter.

It is still a part of the board’s Code of Con­duct. Vi­o­la­tions can re­sult in sus­pen­sion and/or ex­pul­sion.

“Right now, we’re fo­cus­ing on hold­ing stu­dents ac­count­able for their ac­tions. We’re try­ing to be proac­tive,” said MacIver.

Di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion Larry Hope said the board has a strong work­ing re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal po­lice and trusts is­sues will be ad­dressed.

How­ever, he noted “some­times so­cial me­dia cre­ates a big­ger prob­lem than it solves,” adding the video post­ing and sub­se­quent me­dia cov­er­age let the mat­ter take on a “life of its own.”

Hope added the at­ten­tion has led to more dis­cus­sion and aware­ness of the is­sue.

Trustee Don Al­ton con­firmed this, not­ing he has re­ceived calls from par­ents say­ing their child has been bul­lied at school, but have never said any­thing to any­one.

Mean­while, an­other par­ent has reached out to Kawartha

Lakes This Week and MyKawartha.com to share his son’s ex­pe­ri­ence with the al­leged fight club bul­lies.

He said his son and his friends had their first run-in with the group be­fore school ended last year — and they went to the prin­ci­pal about it. "Tom Ade­laide," whose name we’ve changed to pro­tect the iden­tity of his son, said his boy and his friends were con­fronted by a group of bul­lies at Cen­tral Se­nior when his son’s friend had a new bike. His son stood up for his friend.

“Then my son be­came a tar­get,” Ade­laide said. “They said he was go­ing to fight whether he liked it or not."

In­stead, Ade­laide’s son reached out to his father. To­gether, they went to the prin­ci­pal. Ade­laide said he stayed to talk with the prin­ci­pal while his son and his friends left to go to the Tim Hor­tons down the street.

Ade­laide said a group of 15 to 20 stu­dents sur­rounded him and his friends once they reached Hor­tons, telling them to fight.

Luck­ily, Ade­laide was nearby and ar­rived be­fore things es­ca­lated. He called po­lice.

Ade­laide said the po­lice let him know that they were aware of al­leged fight club videos. He said the school told him it would do some­thing, but that it turned out just to be a “slap on the wrist.”

“They’ve known about this for two years now,” he said. “These kids are just re­lent­less ... I think they need to crack down harder on these kids and start charg­ing them.”

Stu­dents at Vic­to­ria Park in Lind­say ex­change blows as a group watches. The vi­o­lence was cap­tured on video and is be­ing shared by par­ents con­cerned a "fight club" at school is harm­ing stu­dents.

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